Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Longtime geography professor feted

by MARC GRUBER on April 22, 2013 11:00 AM

Ruth Shirey, who retired as a professor of geography at Indiana University of Pennsylvania after 37 years, recently received the Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service Honors Award in Los Angeles at the Association of American Geographers’ annual meeting.

Shirey, of Indiana, is a 1965 graduate of IUP and returned as a professor in 1970.

The professor emerita of geography was recognized for her outstanding efforts in promoting the discipline of geography in elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools, according to the AAG’s press release.

Shirey served as the executive director of the National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE), from 1988 to 2002 and as a state coordinator for the Pennsylvania Geographic Alliance for 14 years. She was also the project administrator for the National Geographic Standards Project and participated in the writing of the Pennsylvania state geographic standards.

Through such efforts, she made substantial and lasting contributions to the field of geographic education, which resulted in her being honored with the Pennsylvania Geographic Society Distinguished Service Award and the George J. Miller Award for Distinguished Service in 1996, according to the press release.

Shirey’s innovative ideas, strategic vision and commitment to geographic education have transformed the place and face of discipline in K-12 education, the release states.

Shirey said she has fond memories of her time spent at IUP.

“One aspect of IUP I liked very much were the nationally known speakers and performances scheduled on campus,” Shirey said. “These were an important part of my education allowing me, among other things, to deepen an interest developed in high school in Shakespeare. I also enjoyed the music and theater program available on campus. A prominent geographer I see regularly at meetings often reminds me how much he enjoyed the opera production he saw on campus while visiting in 1963.”

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